Saturday, October 9, 2010

Five-place penalty for Hamilton

Venue: Suzuka Circuit Date: 10 October, qualifying 0200 BST & race 0700 BST.
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra and text commentary on the BBC Sport website Find complete listings here

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton's title chances have suffered another big setback

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has been penalised five places on the grid for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix for changing his gearbox.

The ex-world champion incurred the penalty as his McLaren was fitted with a new gearbox when the previous one had not done the required four races.

With four races remaining, Hamilton lies third in the race for the title.

Saturday's qualifying for the race at Suzuka was totally washed out and will now take place before Sunday's race.

The unauthorised change happened in the third free practise session, in which Hamilton barely took part, completing just three laps none of which were timed.


The McLaren team decided to make the change and accept the penalty rather than risk using the damaged gearbox.

"In P3 (final practice) we noticed abnormal gearbox oil pressure on Lewis's car which we believed we had corrected ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session," said a McLaren team statement.

"This afternoon, as we fired up Lewis's car several times in preparation for qualifying, we became aware that the symptoms were worse than we'd originally diagnosed.

"A decision was later taken to change the gearbox ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session and the grand prix. As a result, Lewis will receive a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow's race."

The grid penalty comes as another blow to Hamilton's title hopes, which have already suffered after he failed to finish in three of the last four races - twice because he damaged his car in failed overtaking manoeuvres.

The 25-year-old Hamilton is 20 points behind championship leader Mark Webber.

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